A guide to working with an accountant
The benefits to working with an accountant are extensive. Not only can they provide you with assistance when it comes to managing your books and filing your tax returns correctly, but they can assist you with all elements relating to the financial side of your business, and thus hiring an accountant is a great way to improve profit levels in the long run. Using the services of an accountant will also ensure that you have the time to focus on the core of your business as opposed to money matters consuming a large proportion of your time. Read on to discover everything you need to know about working effectively with an accountant.
Hiring a chartered accountant
The first step to ensuring you have an effective relationship with your accountant is to hire the right one for you. There are various things you need to look out for and consider, as outlined below:
- Experience – The importance of experience cannot be overlooked. You want to be safe in the knowledge that you are working with an accountant who has provided their services successfully for many businesses time and time before. You don’t want someone who is effectively going to be learning on the job, no matter how enticing their prices may be.
- Fixed fee accountancy – It is also advisable to consider fixed fee accounting services. This allows you to budget better because you know the exact amount you are going to be paying.
- Services – Assess the services that the accountant in question offers. Some accounting firms offer the bare basics, such as bookkeeping and filing tax returns. However, there are others that provide everything from business formation assistance to profit improvement services.
- Contact information – You need an accountant that is going to be available to answer you questions. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting weeks for responses to emails and having no telephone contact details.
- Reviews – Last but not least, read comments that have been left by previous clients to get an idea regarding their experience with the accountant in question. Remember to consider these comments as a whole; don’t let one remark cloud your entire judgment.
Key questions to ask your accountant
Once you think you have found an accountant that is right for you, you should ask some key questions at the beginning of the relationship to ensure that you have indeed chosen the right person so the foundations are set for an effective working relationship. This includes the following:
- How can you help me to grow my business? This is often the ultimate goal. The accountant’s approach should be considered, and they should not simply try and win you over with a solution that suggests they will be able to make your business an industry leader in a matter of a few months.
- How often should we be in touch? As mentioned earlier, frequent communication is essential, and you should establish early on how often you will be able to contact your accountant.
- What are some considerations for my industry in particular? You want to be sure that the accountant you select not only has a large amount of experience in working with businesses but that they also have knowledge of your industry.
- How can you help me to reduce my cash flow? All businesses want to lower their expenses, and this is something your accountant should be able to assist you with. First, though, they should begin with accurately projecting your company’s cash flow. After which, they can develop a cash flow model to help you improve this element of your business.
Getting the most from your accountant
Once you have chosen an accountant, the next step is to ensure that the relationship is an effective and fruitful one. Here are some top tips for making certain that this is the case.
- Consider working in the cloud – According to a survey conducted by Business Zone, approximately 30 per cent of accountants and businesses collaborate using cloud software. This can help to boost efficiency by a considerable degree and it will maximise value thanks to the transparency of the platform. This is also ideal for those who want to work with an accounting firm that is not based in their local area.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – There seems to be two types of clients. Firstly, there is the client who asks their accountant every question under the sun. But, then you have those who don’t ask enough questions for fear that they are pestering the accountant or that it is not part of the service the accountant provides. Don’t feel this way. Knowledge is power after all for your business, and thus you should ask for your accountant’s opinion on matters that impact your business reaching its goals.
- Learn to speak the same language – One of the main reasons why people do not get as much as they should from their accountant is because of the language or jargon barrier. The best accountants will break down things in a manner that is easy for you to understand. However, this does not mean that you should not learn a bit of the accountant’s language. If you get to grips with translating financial information, you will find the relationship to be a lot more effective.
- Make the most of your accountant’s true expertise – Ensure that the time you pay for is being spent on things that are really going to boost your business. You want to make sure that a large proportion of your time is being spent on things that are going to improve the overall financial health of your company. For example, this includes preparing for long-term monetary goals and lessening your tax burden.
- Understand the processes your accountant uses – It is probable that your accountant will not handle every aspect of your financial matters. For example, you may decide to handle basic bookkeeping tasks on your own, or you may automate a number of your financial processes. If this is the case, you still need to understand the processes your accountant uses and the information that they require.
We can also suggest reading through the following article for The 20 Best Accounting Platforms for Small Businesses in 2021